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Russia abstains from UN Security Council vote on Afghanistan

RIA Novosti

20/09/2007 09:33 NEW YORK, September 20 (RIA Novosti) - Russia abstained from a UN Security Council vote to extend the authorization of the NATO-led force in Afghanistan for another 12 months, reported RIA Novosti Thursday.

Russia raised objections on Wednesday to the unexpected inclusion in the document of a sentence expressing appreciation to NATO as well as to contributors from many nations to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), "including its maritime interdiction component."

Diplomats said the contested sentence was added mainly to give support to Japan's government, whose decision to continue the country's naval role in the ISAF has faced domestic opposition.

Russia's envoy to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, said Russia had abstained from the vote because the issue of maritime interception was not clarified, and the resolution "should not have given priority to domestic considerations."

The vote was 14-0, with Russia the only country to abstain. China, despite also expressing concern over the document's wording, supported the resolution.

The ISAF currently has around 40,000 soldiers in Afghanistan. The country's former Taliban rulers, forced from power by U.S. and Afghan forces in 2001, have stepped up their activities dramatically of late, launching increasingly regular attacks on U.S.-led coalition forces.

Churkin also commented that the mandate for the ISAF still had a month to run before its expiration, and that council members should have "exerted every effort to get unanimity."

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